Saturday, April 14, 2007

just the fox, ma'am

I have a shitload of work to begin in the next two hours, so naturally I’ve chosen to blog instead. Here’s my new favorite way to procrastinate.

As a Gmail user, I have a personalized Google home page. I use it to track important things like the weather, the contents of my inbox, the latest official Star Trek gossip, various job listings, and pithy sayings about Chuck Norris. Handy, right?

Google recently added a new feature: themes. You can choose the background theme for the upper part of the page, and most of the scenes will change slightly during the day based on what time it is in your zip code. Like, if you choose “beach,” the sun rises over the water in the morning and sets on the other side of the screen in the evening. Sure, cute, whatever.

I chose “teahouse” as my theme. There’s a lake in the middle of my landscape, flanked by a Japanese teahouse on one side and an orange grove on the other, with Mt. Fujigoogle in the background. The sun rises on the left and sets on the right — apparently in cyberspace I’m facing south — and so what?

So what is, someone lives there: a sweetly earnest little fox character with ears poking up through a conical hat. I fell immediately in love with Fox, and I check on him about every 10 minutes. He’s a busy creature. Gets more done during the day than I do.

In the morning Fox fishes from the dock in front of his teahouse, then rows his little boat over to the orange grove and picks oranges. He enjoys a meal of sushi and fruit, feeds the ducks, and washes his linens in the lake. (Side note: I think Fox is naked aside from his hat and the wooden sandals he leaves on the shore, so I’m assuming it’s picnic blankets and bedding, not clothing, that he’s laundering.)

Later in the day Fox rows back over to the house, fishing some more along the way. The evening hours find him pouring tea for his supper, playing a stringed instrument on the pier, and gazing up at the stars with his telescope. When nighttime comes, he stretches out in his wee bedroll and goes to sleep. Various caterpillars, dragonflies, and cranes keep him company throughout the day.

Fox is adorable! I’m tempted to get up in the middle of the night to check on him yet again, but so far I haven’t. However, I do really wonder what he’s up to when I’m not looking. I speculate that whoever programmed Fox put a couple Easter eggs in there — that if I caught him at just the right time, occasionally I’d discover him doing something completely out of the ordinary, like dancing the Macarena or talking on a cell phone. As it is, I keep hitting “refresh” on the page to see if he’s doing anything different yet, and I’ve even considered logging his activities for a few days to see whether he keeps to a strict schedule.

Alas, industrious Fox is setting too good an example. I’m off to do a bit of journalism before heading out to dinner with some friends. We’re having pizza. I think Fox is having fish and rice.



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